An ex-Marine haunted by a tragic past, Tommy Riordan returns to his hometown of Pittsburgh and enlists his father, a recovering alcoholic and his former coach, to train him for an MMA tournament awarding the biggest purse in the history of the sport. As Tommy blazes a violent path toward the title prize, his brother Brendan, a former MMA fighter unable to make ends meet as a public school teacher, returns to the amateur ring to provide for his family. Even though years have passed, recriminations and past betrayals keep Brendan bitterly estranged from both Tommy and his father. But when Brendan's unlikely rise as an underdog sets him on a collision course with Tommy, the two brothers must finally confront the forces that tore them apart, all the while waging the most intense winner-take-all battle of their lives.
Some men make their peace by hugging it out, but the men in Warrior
communicate through their fists. Paddy Condon (Nick Nolte) trained his sons to be ultimate fighting champions, but alcohol, divorce, and a span of 14 years has driven them apart. Now Brendan (Animal Kingdom
's Joel Edgerton) works as a science teacher, while Tommy (Tom Hardy, looking even burlier than he did in Bronson
) has returned to Pittsburgh in the wake of his mother's death. He contacts his estranged father only because he wants to fight again. Paddy knows better than to ask what he's been doing in the meantime, but details of Tommy's time in the marines come to light just as his brother also plans a return to the ring, a move his wary wife (House
's Jennifer Morrison) supports only because they'll lose their home otherwise. It's a foregone conclusion that the brothers will face each other in Atlantic City for the mixed martial arts competition with the $5 million prize, though Miracle
director Gavin O'Connor makes the meeting surprisingly believable by capturing the bouts that lead up to the main event. Throughout, Tommy fights like Tyson, knocking out opponents in a single blow, while Brendan wears them down through dogged persistence. The actors give it their all, but O'Connor stretches his underwritten script too far, leaving Tommy overly enigmatic, so it's fortunate that Brendan emerges as a more fully rounded figure, proving that Edgerton's move from the stage to the screen was a wise course of action. --Kathleen C. Fennessy